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Online Vigilante Justice Worries Experts

In war, politics and sports, it's often said that the best defense is a strong offense. But the foot soldiers of computer security work differently: They scramble to build virtual walls that can blunt the impact of attacks.

Now, a Texas company wants to bring vigilante justice to cyberspace.

Symbiot Security says its new Intelligent Security Infrastructure Management Systems not only defends networks but lets them fight back, too. Symbiot says the product is already in use in some corporate, government and military networks.

Though the notion of striking back against "bad guys" may satisfy primal urges, most security experts question whether retaliation will actually halt cyberattacks. Instead the skeptics worry that fighting back could trigger lawsuits, Internet traffic jams and more digital onslaughts.

Ideas about going on the offensive against Internet attackers "have been bounced around for a while," said senior analyst Jesse Dougherty of the security firm Sophos. "But I don't think anyone has been foolhardy enough to actually to form a company around the concept."

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